Kat Sasser, Ph. D. student


Kat graduated from Transylvania University where she became interested in individual differences in the behavior of house sparrows. She is now studying personality and indirect effects of nest-site competition on parental care and nestling survival. 

Ariane Mutzel, Postdoctoral Scholar

Ariane joined the lab in January 2014 on our NSF funded project investigating the biology of variation in parental care. Ariane received her Ph.D. in December 2013 from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seeweisen. She has been studying individual variation in parental care behaviors in great tits. Here's a video describing some of her work. 


Ariane's web page

Jacqueline Dillard, Ph.D. Student


Jacqueline is an NSF predoctoral fellow interested in parental care, cooperation, and dispersal in wood-boring beetles. She is also an accomplished artist (check out her blog and art page!). She received her bachelor's degree from Kent State University, spent some time at Cornell University before coming to Kentucky. She is co-advised by Dave and Chuck Fox in Entomology.

Benjamin Cloud, Ph.D. student


Ben graduated from Manchester University, where he did independent research on genetic introgression in the black-capped/Carolina chickadee hybrid zone. Ben is continuing this research using the golden-winged/blue-winged warbler system, and he is finding evidence of extra-species extra-pair fertilizations using samples from several populations and PCR-amplified microsatellites.  



Gone But Not Forgotten...

Former Post-docs

Ian Stewart, Post-doc and Research Associate. Currently Staff Ornithologist at the Delaware Nature Center.


Joseph Poston, Post-doc. Currently Associate Professor of Biology at Catawba College, NC.


Sarah Sloane, Post-doc. Currently Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Maine-Farmington.

Former Graduate Students


David Moldoff, M.S. (2015). Thesis: Context-dependent individual variation in foraging behavior and parental care in house sparrows. Currently an Environmental Scientist with the California Department of Water Resources. 


Daniel Wetzel, Ph. D. (2013). Thesis: The causes and consequences of individual variation in parental care behavior. Current Position: Visiting Assistant Professor.


Sanh Kin Diep, Ph. D. (2012). Thesis: Role of social interactions on the development and honesty of a signal of status.


Bridget Sousa, Ph. D (2012). Thesis: Ecology of mating patterns and sexual selection

in dickcissels breeding in managed prairie. Current Position: Ecologist, H. T. Harvey and Associates.


Amanda Ensminger, Ph.D. (2011). Thesis: Personality and plasticity of house sparrow foraging behavior. Currently a Lab Coordinator at Morningside College. 


Katherine “Utah” Newman, M.S. (2011). Currently a tutor in Seattle,Wa.


Scott Lynn, Ph.D. (2006) Thesis: Cloning and expression of key endocrine genes in a study on estrogen stimulated sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in yellow perch (Perca flavescens). Current Position: Wildlife toxicologist for the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.


Margret Hatch, Ph.D. (2003).Thesis: Parental care as a life history trait in house sparrows, Passer domesticus. Current Position: Associate Professor at Penn State University-Worthington/Scranton.


Emily Morrison, M.S. (2003). Thesis: Plumage signals and male-male competition for nest sites in house sparrows. Received PhD at Michigan State University, currently an environmental scientist at Arcadis. 


Tria Kinnard, M.S. (2002). Thesis: Analyses of Phenotypic Variation through the Life History of House Sparrows. Currently a physician’s assistant.


Wendy Hein, M.S. (2001). Thesis: Dominance relationships and patterns of aggression in flocks of house sparrows, Passer domesticus. Current Position: 4H educational specialist faculty member at Oregon State University. Contact: wendy.hein at orst.edu.


Herman Mays, Ph.D. (2000). Thesis: Sexual conflict and constraints on female mating tactics in a monogamous passerine, the yellow-breasted chat. Current Position: Associate Professor, Marshall University.


Gina Hupton, M.S. (2000) Thesis: Bacteria in the guts and ejaculates of Red-winged Blackbirds: Implications for multiple mating.


Richard Hanschu, M.S. (1999). Thesis: Microsatellite based genetic studies of paternity in House Sparrows. Currently working in computer systems in New Zealand.


Tamara Roush, Principal Lab Technician (1996-1999). Received Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of California-Davis.


T. Birch Rambo, Ph. D. Student. Projects on rough-winged swallows and density and reproductive success in house sparrows. 


Patricia Hartman, Ph.D. student. Project on hybridization between Golden- and Blue-winged Warblers. Received Masters of Library Science and is now at Auburn University.


Damon Orsetti, Ph.D. student. Project on multiple mating in Colorado Potato Beetles.


Doug Schaefer, Ph.D. student. Cooperative breeding in the monomorphic and ornamented Magpie Shrike.


Sarah Martin Stewart, Ph. D. Student. Research: Male advertisements in Indigo Buntings.

David F. Westneat, Ph.D.

Dave was interested in critters the moment he could walk, started bird-watching when he was 11, graduated from Carleton College as a Biology major in 1981, got his Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1986, spent 3 great years at Cornell, and started his current job at Kentucky in 1990. Dave's research interests began with how paternity affects parental behavior and focused on extra-pair paternity for 20+ years. But as students and post-docs have piqued his curiosity about other things, such as status-signaling and personality, his own research interests have evolved. Currently he is focusing on plasticity and personality in parental behavior. To learn more, check out his publications

The Lab


lab personnel

Tim Salzman, Ph. D. student


Tim graduated from Ohio State University, well, a while ago, and has spent a number of years working on a variety of field projects on a host of creatures, most recently with the swallow project at Cornell University. He is interested in studying the physiological underpinnings of individual differences in behavior. 

Allison McLaughlin, Ph. D. student


Allison graduated from Ohio State University in 2014 having done research on individual differences in fish behavior and on aquatic ecology. She then spent some time at The Wilds working on conservation projects. She plans to work on individual differences in and plasticity of behavior. 

David F. Westneat| Tel 01 859 323 9499 | Fax 859 257 1717 | david.westneat@uky.edu

Alex Cones, Ph. D. student


Alex received a bachelors and M.S from Exeter University in the U.K. For her M.S., she studied plasticity in incubation behavior and its impact on embryo metabolic rate in chestnut-crowned babblers. She plans to continue work on developmental plasticity of embryos and nestlings using house sparrows.